India’s foreign policy, until now a fiefdom of babus in South Block, has gone ‘domestic’.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday launched an initiative towards involving the civil society in formulating and reviewing region-specific foreign policies.
The initiative, a government-public interaction titled ‘Look East Policy—Geography as Opportunity’, was organised in Shillong by the Ministry of External Affairs’ newly-created Public Diplomacy Division (PDD).
“I decided to launch this initiative here recognising the pre-eminent role of our northeastern states in the economic and political development of India,” Mukherjee said.
“Today’s event, the first of its kind, is the outcome of the thinking that the northeast, in particular, is one region into whose progress and development we can dovetail India’s ‘Look East policy.’”
The ‘Look East policy’ was ideated in the early 1990s envisaging the northeast as an economic and cultural bridge between New Delhi and Southeast Asian countries. The policy, MEA officials admitted, has been largely vague despite gaining currency during the NDA regime.
According to Mukherjee, the need to acquaint regional stakeholders with foreign policy matters directly involving them led to the creation of PDD.
“Foreign policy issues in most cases have an impact on the country’s internal matters. To develop a robust foreign policy response, we have strongly felt the need to institute a mechanism through which the public is constantly apprised of the implications of a particular foreign policy initiative and, more importantly, of the strategic rationale behind it. This is the remit of the PDD,” he said.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said New Delhi would be taking a firm stand on Arunachal Pradesh vis-à-vis the issue of encroachment by Chinese troops.